CLEVELAND: Occasionally, Cavaliers star LeBron James has the predictive ability of Nostradamus.

The Cavs forward said he isn’t surprised the team is playing much better defense in the postseason than they did in regular games.

How much better?

Going into Wednesday’s Game 5 of their first-round series against the Indiana Pacers, the Cavs were fifth in the league in defensive rating (101.9), trailing the Golden State Warriors (100.3), the Pacers (100.8), the Utah Jazz (101.1) and the Philadelphia 76ers (101.6). During the regular season, the Cavs ranked 29th (109.5), beating only the tanking Phoenix Suns (110.6).

James chalked the difference up to several factors.

“I think that’s just the coaching staff in general,” James said. “I mean, every coaching staff I’ve ever been on since I’ve been in the postseason that’s had more time obviously to go through the lineups, the players in a playoff series because you’re seeing the same team at least four times, so that’s with every coaching staff.”

There’s little doubt situationally speaking, things were against the Cavs. In some respects, they are a team still learning one another.

“You build a system throughout the regular season, you know because you need to have something when the playoff starts to lay your hats on,” James said. “The problem for our team is that it was hard to build because of the revolving door with our team. Guys in, guys out whether through injuries or trades whatever, [and] our coach went out for a period of time, so it was hard to kind of build that.”

Adhering to the adage that the postseason is a different situation explained his confidence, James said.

“But once the playoffs started, we knew everyone was going to be here and you have more time to prepare, so I believe that our preparation, I believe our coaching staff, our preparation was going to have us ready for the postseason, so it was just my belief,” he said.

The bright side

Should the Cavs advance to the second round of the playoffs, they will do so after playing one of their longest first-round series.

Coach Tyronn Lue said no one on the team thought the Pacers were going to be a pushover.

“You want to win as soon as you can, you want to get it over as soon as you can,” he said. “But this has been a tough series for us; it’s been a tough team all season for us. We understood that coming into it.”

With the addition of Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. before the trading deadline, playoff experience became an issue.

“We think a lot of younger guys are getting more experience, which I think we need if we’re going to advance,” Lue said. “It’s not that bad. I think it’s actually going to play in our favor if we were able to advance.”

Keeping tabs

To say the Pacers’ Lance Stephenson has been feisty might be an understatement. However, it hit its apex in Game 4 of the series, when he got James to commit a technical foul and then was called for a foul on Jeff Green in the closing seconds with his team still having a shot to win.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan has addressed composure issues with his team, he said.

“I talk to all of our guys about being calm and going out and being aggressive, playing smart,” he said prior to the start of Game 5. “That’s something that we certainly talked about at the beginning of this series with Cleveland with the past of the Pacers and LeBron. Yeah, we’ve had conversations. We want our guys to be aggressive, but you want them to be smart out there as well.”

Draft day

He played football in high school, but James has had other things on his mind, so it was of little surprise that he wasn’t able to offer more than cursory advice when it came to who the Browns should take with their first two draft picks — including No. 1 overall.

When asked who the Browns would select, James said he didn’t know.

“They’ve done, I’m hoping, I would guess they have done their due diligence on all the players in the draft and they gonna pick who they fit,” he said. “At the end of the day, you can’t satisfy everybody; people are going to say, ‘Why did they pick him?’ They gonna say that about anybody they take, so it doesn’t matter. So, we’ll see what happens, and best wishes to him.”

Wade’s done?

The Miami Heat bowed out of the playoffs Tuesday night when the 76ers dispatched them 4-1 in a first-round series. Speculation immediately turned to whether James BFF and former Cavaliers player Dwyane Wade would hang up his sneakers.

It’s not a question to ask James, however.

“Actually, I don’t really want to talk about it until we know for sure what he’s going to do,” James said after the Cavs’ morning shootaround.

Dribbles

Point guard George Hill sat out Wednesday’s game with back spasms. Jose Calderon started in his place. ... Browns legend Jim Brown took in Game 5 at Quicken Loans Arena.

George M. Thomas can be reached at gmthomas@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.